Join Freesat


Mar 05 2013

Author: Giles Cottle is Head of Strategy at freesat

You’ll be hard pressed to have missed the hype surrounding Netflix’s new House of Cards series. A high-profile ad campaign has accompanied its launch, including blanket coverage on London’s Underground, among other places.

The big deal about House of Cards, of course, is that it was commissioned by Netflix and, so far, can only be streamed, and not watched on TV. Online commissions aren’t new – even Tom Hanks has had a dabble before – but House Of Cards is by far the most high-profile (and expensive, at a cool $100m) yet. Based on the British programme of the same name and featuring Kevin Spacey as scheming, devious politico Frank Underwood, House of Cards is being talked about seriously as an Emmy contender, something unthinkable for an online programme a few years ago.

But Netflix is not the only company looking at streaming first. The BBC is looking to premiere some of its programmes via iPlayer, a fairly radical move for a broadcaster. And ITV has already offered the first episode of one programme, 666 Park Avenue, on ITV Player, before its broadcast on ITV2 the next day.

Changes are a-foot, for sure. But does all this mean the death of traditional TV in much the same way that online downloading of music content has led to the demise of the high street record shop? Freesat thinks not. Let me explain why.

The great advantage of broadcast TV is that it helps programmes reach large audiences cheaply and easily. For major programmes, TV still rules. A fraction of viewing of the London Olympics, to take one high-profile example, took place online – in fact, more viewing took place via the red button than online.

But we think online has an intriguing role to play when it comes to newer shows. On average, only about 1 in 5 pilots get made into whole series. TV commissioners have an uncanny knack of tapping in to what people want to watch on telly. Witness the current clamour for Scandi crime drama, something few would have predicted a few years ago. But inevitably, some programmes slip through the cracks, and there is simply not room on TV for every pilot that gets made to be spun into a whole series.

But launching a show online can bring a whole new angle to programme commissioning. It is arguably the perfect test-bed for new programmes. There is less at stake for a programme if it is shown online first, rather than taking up a valuable prime time slot. Instead, users can discover the programmes at a time that suits them, and the audience can build around the programme rather than around a time slot. Programmes which find success on an ITV Player or 4oD could easily graduate to broadcast TV, with much greater certainty surrounding the size and make-up of the expected audience. This can also help programmes build a buzz, not just from critics, but from punters too.

The net result of all this? Very simply, more great TV and programmes for the British public to enjoy, which, after all, is what Freesat is all about.

But even where programmes are “online first”, shared viewing of linear TV still has a key role to play in helping a broader audience to discover and socialise the content. Freesat thinks the vision of an ideal hybrid TV service is one which unites the best of broadband and broadcast content and offers consumers choice as to how they consume it. Television democracy in action, so to speak – something even Frank Underwood can stand by.

Giles Cottle is Head of Strategy at Freesat

This post originated from freesat’s new blog site.

24 Responses to “From catch-up to catch-on: what TV can gain from going online first”

  1. Chris Guest Says:

    I’m really enjoying House of Cards on Netflix via my AppleTV.

    Picture quality easily exceeds that on my Humax Foxsat-HDR, or Fox-T2.

      Quote

  2. Richard Crichton Says:

    But online is on TV don’t see any difference in PQ except online is often better.On demand is the way forward in my opinion so bring it on.

      Quote

  3. Chris Says:

    Need better broadband before online content becomes anything remotely likely like relevant in my house! Currently on 0.7Mbps. And no terrestrial reception either. That’s why satellite TV, i.e. Freesat, is extremely important and I’d rather see satellite content increased rather than being reduced to make way for IP-delivered services (i.e. BBC Red Button streams…) and hundreds of embedded online apps like Netflix.

      Quote

  4. admin Says:

    Agree with you there Chris, also on a relatively slow connection, so until speeds across the entire country increase massively, satellite services remain incredibly important. The long-term future is with Internet based services though, you only have to look at Korea, they have super fast broadband and no terrestrial/satellite services (that I’m aware of).

      Quote

  5. Neil Says:

    admin said:
    Agree with you there Chris, also on a relatively slow connection, so until speeds across the entire country increase massively, satellite services remain incredibly important. The long-term future is with Internet based services though, you only have to look at Korea, they have super fast broadband and no terrestrial/satellite services (that I’m aware of).

    That will mean Sky’s business model is completely turned on it’s head and they’ll have a whole world of online competition.

      Quote

  6. admin Says:

    Neil said: That will mean Sky’s business model is completely turned on it’s head and they’ll have a whole world of online competition.

    Sounds great doesn’t it ;)

    But then Sky know this which is why their broadband service is now one of there most profitable side of the business (according to reports, no confirmed facts)

      Quote

  7. Neil Says:

    admin said: Sounds great doesn’t it
    But then Sky know this which is why their broadband service is now one of there most profitable side of the business (according to reports, no confirmed facts)

    Yep, agree there :)

    They are pushing broadband more than TV alone now as they know the pay TV market has certainly flatlined. Freeview have just brought out a new ad saying that 95% of the most watched UK programming is available FTA and asking people to examine their conscience as to whether pay subs actually offer value for money – the very same thing freesat need to do.

    As the TV market fragments platform-wise (DSAT, DTT, on-demand) then viewing habits will change too but the most watched programming will always be the best and that can only be found from the PSB broadcasters, be it over the air or online.

      Quote

  8. Rosco Says:

    “You’ll be hard pressed to have missed the hype surrounding Netflix’s new House of Cards series. A high-profile ad campaign has accompanied its launch, including blanket coverage on London’s Underground, among other places.”

    What advertising campaign? I havent seen any adverts for this AT ALL!

    Netflix is irrelevant here anyway – another house on hopelessly slow “broadband” – and no chance of any improvement any time soon.

      Quote

  9. Mike Says:

    Won’t this heavily deplete my broadband allowance?

      Quote

  10. Keith G Says:

    What about we aged viewers who do not understand the technology?

      Quote

  11. Rosco Says:

    Mike said:
    Won’t this heavily deplete my broadband allowance?

    Yes.

      Quote

  12. david lew Says:

    yes i watch on demand tv through my humax free sat box my conection speed is 60 mbps, but the quality of the picture is not as good as i get from the live feed from the satellite,and this is for sd picture quality , and for hd picture quality there is no comparison.

      Quote

  13. Brian Damage Says:

    Hmm…

    Freesat think “NOT”…

    Maybe that’s because they don’t have a business model if the UK makes a major shift towards on-demand viewing?

    Freesat has, regretably, made a huge cock up in the on-demand area with poor vendor colaboration in the early days (despite Freesat’s initial marketing claims) followed by support for channel-specific technologies, on some platforms, but not others…

    Sad, but true. I wish it wasn’t.

    If only Freesat had worked with the content providers to ensure a standard approach years ago.

    It seems to me that the future of TV is most likely IP – perhaps something like the Eupoean IP TV standard HbbTv.

    DVB-S & DVB-T are already superseded….
    DVB-S2 & DVB-T2 will be not far behind if on-demand is….demanded!

    Where then Freesat?

      Quote

  14. kuergun Says:

    Sky are launching “Revolution” apparently one of the worst TV shows aired in the US they aren’t even thinking about a 2 series it only scored 4.5/10 for poor acting and poor story. An example a plane is crashing because it has no electricity but yet all the nav lights and passenger lights work as we see it fall from the sky in a lit street. and they have musket guns Why? all I can tell you is Sky should stream this first as its rubbish!!!!

      Quote

  15. admin Says:

    Revolution was appallingly bad, I must agree.

      Quote

  16. Richard Crichton Says:

    Trouble with the ad saying 95% of the most watched pros are available FTA is they don’t mention that a large % of the remaining 5% is PL footie and that easily trumps the 95% in footie fans eyes. Sky’s entire subscription empire is based on their monopoly of PL footie and they will pay any amount to maintain that .

      Quote

  17. Chris Says:

    There’s lots of messages cropping up here! The article is about previewing new shows online first, maybe for testing and research purposes. But until broadband speeds and allowances are more accommodating, it’s unfair to restrict new content to one section of the market only, and it also skews their testing results anyway, if testing and research is meaningful only by representative and typical samples. I agree that IPTV is probably the future, but this is way into the future, we haven’t got anywhere near that yet. Youtube, iPlayer, Netflix etc are often quoted as IPTV but in reality and technically they’re not, they’re streaming apps. I always imagined IPTV as being like a tuner, like an analogue tuner, a Freeview tuner or a Freesat tuner, or a cable tuner. A standard device, built into a TV, that you “tune” via various parameters, and bring them up by channel numbers or an EPG etc, maybe there will be “packages” or service providers like Freesat that will amalgamate bouqets of channels and tune them in and mantain them automatically. You could buy any sort of additional STB that is IPTV enabled and allow it to “broadcast” to any of your IPTV-compatible TVs or devices.

    What we have got at the moment is a mishmash of individual proprietary streaming apps. You can’t buy an iPlayer box or a Netflix box and allow it to stream via IP to all your TVs. As far as I can tell, there are no TVs at the moment that have “IPTV” tuners. Freesat maybe have got the right idea in providing some sort of development/integration platform and building these channels directly into the EPG, even if behind the scenes they are simply embedding iPlayer into the EPG. There’s no reason why all the different broadcast methodologies, DVB-T, DVB-S, IPTV, cannot live together in perfect harmony! But until that happens, please don’t ditch satellite services in favour of IPTV!

    One direction I’d love Freesat to be going in is that of the multi-tuner server PVR. Satellite, being what it is, is more difficult to get into multiple rooms. Therefore a central server that can distribute satellite to anywhere in the house with a network connection (yes, via IPTV) and have individual control, would be a revelation.

    Maybe I’ve got completely the wrong idea of what IPTV is! But if you have a look at the blurb about SES-Astra’s multiserver box, I think it starts talking about being able to receive on any IPTV-enabled TV.

      Quote

  18. al catraz Says:

    All this forward thinking would be impressive if Freesat actually delivered some of the services they promised in the past. We’re still waiting for 4OD and Demand5 promised last year!

      Quote

  19. Kate Says:

    What a poor stat is that 95% of the top 5 or 10 or 20 or ??? TV programmes?

      Quote

  20. Richard Crichton Says:

    Kate said:
    What a poor stat is that 95% of the top 5 or 10 or 20 or ??? TV programmes?

    The ad, created by the Leo Burnett agency, claims that 95% of the top 1,000 programmes on UK television between January and June last year were available on Freeview, according to figures from industry body Barb.

      Quote

  21. Martin B Says:

    Chris said:
    One direction I’d love Freesat to be going in is that of the multi-tuner server PVR. Satellite, being what it is, is more difficult to get into multiple rooms. Therefore a central server that can distribute satellite to anywhere in the house with a network connection (yes, via IPTV) and have individual control, would be a revelation.Maybe I’ve got completely the wrong idea of what IPTV is!But if you have a look at the blurb about SES-Astra’s multiserver box, I think it starts talking about being able to receive on any IPTV-enabled TV.

    Totally agree this is the way freesat should be going. Humax have a box that does this but it is sold for German TV only! Echostar make an amazing box for an American TV company that has something like six tuners and then little boxes you attach to each TV to control the server (annoyingly called ‘hopper and joey’, but you can’t have everything)

    I watch the best from freesat HD on an HD projector and have an excellent internet connection. Freesat is proper 1080 HD, OK we all know it could be better and despite advertising surround sound is broadcast on only a very few programs! BUT IPlayer even in HD doesn’t even come close to SD broadcast. I know, I can see it on a large screen!

    The problem is joe public is currently accepting lower and lower quality broadcasts. You only have to look at how music is now listened to on mobile phones at incredibly low bit rates, when it wasn’t that long ago the quality of music was on the way up with SACD. Blu-ray gives excellent results on my projector and Freesat can get close to the equivalent quality. You can already buy TV’s and projectors that display 8K UHD (which I feel is much much better than 3D, but don’t get me started!) So why are we even contemplating low definition online content?

    Freesat is the ideal platform for HIGH quality broadcast and has the bandwidth without us having to fork out more and more for faster broadband. IP TV has its place, don’t get me wrong but we had 24 channels of glorious HD for free during the Olympics THIS IS THE WAY TO GO!!

      Quote

  22. Joe Says:

    admin said:
    Agree with you there Chris, also on a relatively slow connection, so until speeds across the entire country increase massively, satellite services remain incredibly important. The long-term future is with Internet based services though, you only have to look at Korea, they have super fast broadband and no terrestrial/satellite services (that I’m aware of).

    I don’t know about domestic satellite services but in the evenings in the UK you can watch Korean breakfast television live in English on Hotbird at 13 deg East (Arrirang). Very good it is too.

      Quote

  23. Joe Says:

    Joe said: I don’t know about domestic satellite services but in the evenings in the UK you can watch Korean breakfast television live in English on Hotbird at 13 deg East (Arrirang). Very good it is too.

    I’ve just checked on Lyngsat there are several satellites pointing towards Korea – notable called Koreasat!

      Quote

  24. Neil Says:

    Richard Crichton said: The ad, created by the Leo Burnett agency, claims that 95% of the top 1,000 programmes on UK television between January and June last year were available on Freeview, according to figures from industry body Barb.

    That fact does really say a lot about pay-TV and apart from Sport and Movies it offers extremely little to appetise the average viewer. It’s only the Sky+ functionality that retains a lot of people to Sky outside the above two categories. If freesat offered the above as a streamed service, ie a sports bouquet of pay content together with Netflix, I’m sure there’d be many Sky subscribers who’d consider jumping ship. Yep, Sky have the movies monopoly of first runs but the ‘non die hard’ movie fans will be happy to wait.

      Quote

Leave a Reply

Freesat RSS Feed Want the latest Freesat news?
You should subscribe to our RSS Feed, as you'll get all the latest Freesat news, reviews and information!